Having Money Give Options

Julia working at the wheel

Julia working at the wheel

“Without Freedom, creativity cannot flourish. The right to freedom is crucial to progress in any society; and the context is having a sense of global responsibility.” –Dalai Lama

“Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.” –Nelson Mandela

“The lack of money is the root of all evil.” –Mark Twain

This past weekend The Pottery Studio At Sierra Vista, which evolved out of my husband’s pottery classes, held their seventh annual Empty Bowls Project fund raiser. To find out more about the history of how The Empty Bowls Project got started, click here.  It’s now an international movement of loosely organized, local groups. Each group solicits donations of handmade pottery bowls, soup and bread. Those attending the event, pick out a bowl, give a suggested donation of $10 and then they sit down to a simple meal of soup and bread. The handmade bowls are a reminder that there a many bowls that remain empty in our communities. The funds raised go to local food banks.

The studio in our town is located inside one of the community centers run by the city, which supports and sponsors our local Empty Bowls Project every year. We’re fortunate to live in a generous community that has helped the project become a must attend event each year.

To give you a perspective on how much our little event has grown, the first year there were about 200 donated bowls and about $2,000 dollars was earned. All proceeds were given to local food banks. Over the past 7 years many people have become involved to make the event a success. Schools, the local community college and individual artists donate their talents at special events to create the bowls, and each year more local restaurants donate soup and bread. By comparison, this year, over 2,000 bowls were donated, and about $15,000 was raised. For a community of between 50,000 and 65,000 people, if you count the outlying areas, that’s a huge amount of growth. Needless to say, our county agencies can use all the help they can get.

I don’t think the county I live in is much different than others around the country. There are a lot of people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and a large percentage of those people are children. $15,000 will be a big help, but it won’t stretch to feed all the hungry people in our area for long.

On Sunday, after the Empty Bowls event, Barry gave a talk about the Project at the Unitarian Universalist church. During the talk, I overheard one gentleman say, “It’s sad that we live in the wealthiest country in the world and yet there are so many homeless and hungry people.” That is sad. But it doesn’t need to be our story. We can change it by rolling up our sleeves and getting to work, healing our inner money issues, and helping each other.

I wrote all of the above to help you understand the point of this post. To be free each person needs enough money so that they don’t have to worry about having enough food, a decent place to live, clothes on their bodies, proper health care, and all the other essentials of a good life. I get that because Barry and I have been struggling with money issues our entire married life. That’s why I decided to begin the tapping regimen that I mentioned last week. There have been times when Barry and I had to decide between paying a bill or buying groceries. We’ve never been destitute. We’ve always had a roof over our heads. But, to get just a taste of the struggles some people experience for long periods of time, makes me feel compassion for them.

Something we don’t often think about is that struggles with money are not just about earning a living wage. They’re also about finding your place in the world, and fulfilling your purpose.

For the last five years, Barry and I have been paying off our credit cards. It’s part of our long term plan to find financial freedom. During that time, we’ve been living within our means. It’s been a hard, but good lesson. Now we are on the verge of having surplus money and as a result, we’ve been talking about how to best use it. On the way home from church, we decided that we can give a monthly donation to our local food banks. This will help families who struggle each month to put food on the table.

To give food to people in need is one thing, but we decided we also need to support agencies that help provide education. We believe the old saying, “If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.” With proper education, many struggling families can find not only higher paying jobs, but self-esteem and hopefully their true purpose.

Of course there are so many other problems around this issue that need to be addressed, like raising the minimum wage, providing low income housing to more families and the like. However, one person can only do so much. It’s better to address one or two problems than to get overwhelmed and not do anything.

I’m glad to say that now that I’m seeing money in a new way, I feel more generous. For a long time when I got money, I wasn’t sure when I’d be getting more, so I hoarded it. I know now there is always more money on it’s way to me, which makes me more determined to share what I’ve got.

Barry and I are using our talents and our money to help people have enough food to eat and education to help them feel better about themselves. How will you help?

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Calla Lilies

Suffering is Optional

Calla Lilies

Calla Lilies

“Let us never allow our daily doubts or private fears to blind us to the blessings all around.” –Brendon Burchard

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” –Carl Jung

“The only difference between heaven and hell is believing a thought.” –Byron Katie

Sometimes the cosmic tumblers fall into place and the door opens up to a new level of growth and healing. This recently happened for me. For years I’ve been working to clean up all the beliefs that I learned growing up that no longer serve my present life. I thought I was pretty close to being finished with that phase of growing into my full potential, but wouldn’t you know it, I got hit in the face with a big road block that I thought I’d healed these past few years.

About a year ago, I was introduced to The Tapping Solution by Nick Ortner. Tapping is a way to reprogram your brain to release old, long-held beliefs that no longer serve you, or that have been holding you back. It’s also a great way to heal physical conditions or pain that you might be experiencing. I’ve used it off and on since my introduction to it and I’ve had fantastic results.

Last week I saw an invitation on Facebook from Nick to a free webinar about using Tapping to heal money issues and gain true abundance. I knew this was a teaser for a web course, but I decided to attend the webinar anyway. Tapping had been working for me in other areas of my life, why not see if it would help me get over the last humps of my money blocks. I decided not to sign up for the course, however, I did learn great techniques from the webinar. I’m going to use them to take another step on my healing journey.

As we practiced the tapping techniques, I was surprised to find a much larger network of beliefs, some of them long forgotten, about money that have been holding me back. I took the worksheet that Nick so generously gave us for free and began to dismantle those old beliefs. Each day tapping is part of my morning regimen. I record the shifts in my consciousness in my journal, and send Reiki to myself to help speed this process along.

I was reminded about how much suffering I can endure. It’s sad that most of us have learned to bury our pain deep inside and cover it over thinking that’s the best way to deal with it; that if we do that we won’t have to face the pain and suffering ever again. That’s not what happens, though.

I wish I could remember which spiritual teacher said, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” In my case, I’ve been choosing to believe something about my relationship with money that’s not true. And my husband and I have suffered because of those erroneous beliefs.

As I was thinking about this post, I was reminded of the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that illustrates so perfectly where I am in my life.

Commander Benjamin Sisko is assigned to clean up a situation in a far outpost of the Federation at a space station, Deep Space Nine. It orbits the planet Bajor. Benjamin has recently lost his wife in a terrible battle. He’s emotionally wounded. When he arrives he finds that the Bajorans are a very spiritual people and their government is run by spiritual leaders. He’s surprised to find one of the leaders, Kai Opaka, has come to inform him that his coming was foretold. He is the long awaited emissary. Of course, he’s skeptical. But when Kai Opaka presents him with the Tear of the Prophet, a mysterious looking orb, and he touches it, he enters an alternate reality where he has conversations with the Prophets. They ask him questions about his life. To his frustration, they take him back, again and again, to the moment of his wife’s death. They’re curious about these images he holds in his consciousness. He asks the Prophets why they keep taking him back to this moment in his life that is so painful. Their answer: “You exist here.” Sisko has been unable to heal after his wife’s death, so he relives the moment he found her, and realizes he can’t save her. The pain is so great, he can’t get past it. It’s in that confrontation with the Prophets that he knows he’s been torturing himself by being unwilling to face losing his beloved wife. He can’t face building a new life for himself and his son without her. This encounter with the Prophets helps him choose healing over repeated suffering.

I don’t think I’m alone in doing what the character Benjamin Sisko did in the TV show. I’ve been living with a certain set of beliefs about myself and money. I’ve been blocking a more prosperous and fulfilling life for myself. Experience has taught me that sometimes we hold onto our suffering thinking we deserve it, or if we deal with our pain, we’re being disloyal to those we’ve lost. Or we can’t see the path before us without the pain and suffering. We can’t imagine a better life. Sometimes we believe we will never be happy again. There are lots of reasons why we get emotionally and mentally stuck. I’ve been stuck and I’ve decided to allow myself to move on.

As Pema Chodron says, “Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” I find that idea comforting. I get a second and a third chance to improve my life by dealing with the issues that I’ve not yet finished healing. Now is the time for me to finish the work of healing my relationship with money. Who knows what issues I’ll be healing this time next year.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Fear and Decisions

Fear“Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” –Pema Chodron

“Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Fear is a liar. It whispers in our ear that if we control that person, circumstance or situation, we’ll feel better. But fear lives inside not outside of us. So when your attempts to control outside events fail, it grows into a monster threatening to eat us alive. It cripples all aspects of our life, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, unless its faced. I know this from personal experience.

There have been times in my life when I made a choice based on fear’s advice. One instance was when, as a new college graduate, I took a job I knew in the pit of my stomach was not the right situation for me. Fear said, “Take the job. You might not get another offer. You need the money.” Foolishly I listened and for two years I worked for a toxic company. It was only when I nearly had a nervous breakdown, as we used to call them, that I woke up and faced my fear. Leaving that supposedly secure position was one of the best decisions of my life.

Elections are a prime time for politicians and commentators to spew fear. Natural disasters, war, or health threats are other times when fear whispers to those vulnerable to its call. Right now we’re in a vortex of events where, in my mind, Fear is rejoicing that there are so many people to feed upon. That’s a metaphor I chose on purpose. Fear feeds upon us.

I want to make it clear, we ALL feel fear from time-to-time. We can’t escape that fact. However, we can reduce or eliminate it with practice.

This is what I’ve learned in my process of facing fear. Its not strong. We think of fear as all powerful. Maybe because of the powerful emotions it evokes. But fear can’t stand up to scrutiny. When I’ve allowed myself to face my fear fully, then look beyond it to the myriad possibilities that fear is trying to hide from me, it dissolves. Not all at once, but the more I turn away from my fear, the more it shrinks.

There have been a number of times in my life when I know my family, and even some of my friends did not understand the choices I made. They thought I was crazy. Quitting my teaching job to become a writer, selling my house to fund a trip around the world, quitting that first job that was so toxic to get my Master’s in theatre. Oh, I’m sure many of my family members still shake their heads at the choices I’ve made.

But the thing is, it’s the people who look fear in the face that we admire. I admire Gabby Giffords, who was my Congresswoman, and now advocates for stricter gun regulations. Malala Yousafzai who promotes education for girls all over the world. The fearful tried to silence them by shooting them, but when they didn’t die, those two women became more powerful than ever before.

There are so many other people who’s names we don’t know, who are facing fear every day and winning. They are becoming powerful and doing great and creative things that contribute to all of humanity. We need them all if we’re going to create a new way to live that is more loving, more sustainable, more joyful.

We can’t control events outside ourselves. All we can control is our response to what happens to us. We can control our response to fear. Remember that when you go into the voting booth in a few weeks, or choose what to watch on TV or which pundits to listen too. Are they spreading fear, or hope?

It’s my prediction that the tide will turn away from fear. That we’ll take responsibility for embracing hope and love instead. That we’ll accept that life is unpredictable which makes living exciting. There can be a bright future ahead of us, if we choose it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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How I Got the Idea for My Book

Dad, Lucinda, Mom

Dad, Lucinda, Mom

“If you want your children to be trustworthy, you have to trust them.” –James Calvin Sage

“People who hurt others are wounded themselves. They think hurting others will help them feel better, but that never works. It makes them feel worse. The only way to help them heal is to love them.” –James Calvin Sage

When authors are interviewed, they are almost always asked, “How did you get the idea for your book?” I’m about to publish my first novel, The Space Between Time, and I’ve been thinking about the answer to that question. The answer is: I wrote it for my Dad.

I started the book in 1999 after a visit to my parents. They lived in Quartzsite, Arizona at the time. My father had his first open heart surgery in the mid-80s and though I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that he would die of the disease one day, up until that trip, he had seemed much the same as he’d always been. That weekend I knew that he’d taken a turn for the worse.

On the five hour drive home, the idea for the book formed in my mind. I wanted to write about a father and daughter and their close relationship. I also wanted to have the twist of a character in the present with some connection to father and daughter but that storyline was very unclear to me.

When Barry and I got home, I sat down at the computer and began writing the storyline that was most vivid, the one set in 1858 Vermont with Morgan and her father Thomas. Of course, the character of Thomas Carlyle was designed after my Dad. In tribute to him, I gave him the professions he would have loved, minister, scholar, writer and teacher. Though, in a way those professions did describe my Dad. His daytime job was as a machinist, but he was a lay minister in our church as well. And even though he’d dropped out of school because of undiagnosed dyslexia, he taught himself to read, which he did voraciously. My father was infinitely curious about everything. So, in a way, he was very much like Thomas Carlyle.

The other things that I incorporated into Thomas that were like my Dad, was his wanderlust, and a deep love and understanding of his fellow human beings. Though Thomas hadn’t traveled a great deal, he wanted to travel west to build a new life. Unfortunately, he fell ill, making the trip impossible for him. He does, however, encourage Morgan to make the journey on her own and build a new life for herself. That’s very much like my dad. He was always encouraging us to go do things he’d never been able to do himself.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, shortly after I started the book, I had to set it aside because I began teaching full-time. So the book sat unfinished for eleven years. In the mean time, things happened to me that helped me understand how to write the timeline in the present. Also, my father died in 2004. That was ten years ago this month. It’s fitting that the novel that he inspired is now nearly ready for publication. I’ve got a better perspective on my relationship with my Dad, what I learned from him and how those lessons helped me navigate some deeply challenging times in my own life. I’m grateful to have had him as my father. I know he’d be proud of my accomplishment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Fall Cocoon

My Favorite Books

My Favorite Books

“How beautiful it is to do nothing at all and then rest afterwards.” –Spanish Proverb

“I make no secret of the fact that I would rather lie on a sofa than sweep beneath it.” –Shirley Conran

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” –Alan cohen

Every fall I feel myself going into hibernation, or cocoon mode. It feels like lots of transformation is going on under the surface, but whatever changes are happening to me aren’t ready to see the light of day as yet. I’m not quite sure what it’s all about, except that I have to stop trying to do so much and allow the process to happen. All I know is I’ve entered a season of quiet, and I must honor it.

In this country we think that to be worthwhile, we must be active, always doing, accomplishing something. I think it’s our Puritan work ethic which is slowly killing us. Work is good if it’s meaningful, but too much is detrimental to our health. Our bodies are designed to rejuvenate in sleep. The mind needs to be quiet. We need to refresh and renew every so often, instead of pushing ourselves to the limit. I believe that when we don’t allow ourselves to relax, we develop insomnia, nervous disorders, and other health problems. I’m not a doctor, or scientist. I didn’t take the time to research my statements. I’m just going by what happens to me when I try to push myself too hard.

This past spring, we had a short visit from a friend from Australia. He’s a Law Professor. His University gives him $25,000.00 travel stipend every year. They want him to go explore, make connections, get out of the office and learn something new. On top of that Australians get four weeks of paid vacation, and paid maternity leave. I’m envious. There are times when I wish I lived in a country that valued planned idleness and play, because that’s when inspiration and innovation come to us. I know my mind works much better when I’ve allowed myself to rest and focus on something other than the current project on which I’m working.

So, I’m going to follow my inclination to read lots of books, allow what I write to meander in fanciful ways. I’m going to take naps and generally enjoy myself this fall and winter. I hope you take some time off to play and relax when you need it too.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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History Repeats Itself Until…

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” –Theodore Roosevelt

“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.” –Franklin D. Roosevelt

This weekend my husband and I binge watched The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. We were struck with how similar events during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Presidency are to events that have happened in the last few years, and are still happening today. Isn’t that always the way, though. Even in our personal lives. We repeat lessons until we pay attention to what we need to learn from them.

The events we’re living with right now are so bleeping uncomfortable. Add to that the personal struggles each of us are going through and it’s no wonder we’re all freaking out a little bit. However, you may think I’m weird, but, for the most part I’ve learned to welcome challenges.

In my personal life, when I’m feeling uncertain or fearful, I know I’m getting a huge blessing. The Universe is telling me there is something extraordinary I need to be looking at. If I heed the call instead of poking my head in the sand, I’m always rewarded.

Right now the challenges I’m facing all have to do with the publication of my first novel, The Space Between Time. I’m in new territory here. I’ve never written a novel before and something tells me my life will be irrevocably changed when the book comes out.

Part of the reason I feel this way has to do with something that happened one day shortly after I made the decision to quit teaching. I was cleaning up my room at the end of the school year, thinking about my decision to teach one more year. But as I was packing, the thought came to me that if I chose I could trust the Universe and quit at that very moment. Instead of squashing the possibility, I considered it, which brought a flood of what I can only describe as ecstasy. I knew without a doubt I was on the right path. That I was supposed to take this step into being a writer. The extraordinary thing about that feeling was it lasted through the rest of my packing, and the hour drive home.

It ended up that I chose not to quit that day. I took my signed contract to the school district office on the deadline day with a little bit of a heavy heart. But, that last year of teaching was amazing, and I don’t regret my decision. However, ever since my extraordinary experience, I’ve had this feeling that no matter what, I’m meant to be a writer. Every morning when I wake up I know I get to do this amazing job and I feel immensely blessed.

That doesn’t mean that thinking about all the possibilities of my future as a writer doesn’t make me crazy sometimes. I’m an introvert, so the thought of attracting even a little bit of attention is daunting. But I’m building a new life for myself, like my two main characters in my novel, Jenna in the present, and Morgan in the past. I’m choosing to step out of my comfort zone following where Spirit leads me. I wouldn’t change my decision to become a writer for the world.

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

That brings me back to Theodore, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt. They are fantastic examples of people who looked for and followed their calling. They weren’t perfect people. They each suffered great tragedies in their lives. But they didn’t let those stop them from embracing life to the fullest. They did the very best they could with the life they had. That’s what I want to do. I want to do the best I can with this life I have, because doing that will influence someone, maybe a lot of someones. And isn’t that why we’re here? To make connections with, learn from, and inspire each other?

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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What’s Important in Life?

Cochise Campus Flower

Cochise Campus Flower

“Don’t get me wrong, I admire elegance and have an appreciation of the finer things in life. But to me, beauty lies in simplicity.” –Mark Hyman

“Simplicity is the glory of expression.” –Walt Whitman

“I continue to be drawn to clarity and simplicity. ‘Less is more’ remains my mantra.” –Stephane Rolland

When I was growing up, we didn’t have lots of luxuries. I can’t say I missed them. We had plenty to eat and roofs over our heads. (We moved a lot.) My parents didn’t dabble in the Stock Market. They were just making a living to support us. Life was pretty simple. I didn’t know anything different. I was comfortable. That’s all that mattered.

During college, I took theatre classes. Celia Schall, one of my mentors, always said to her actors, “Less is more.” As an actor, I understood what that meant, but not so much in living. I wanted to have the big house, the nice car and financial freedom. However, when Barry and I got married, even though we both worked, we struggled. We struggled to keep up with everyone else.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized, we struggled because first, we set our sights on having all the stuff the advertisers said we needed, and second, we thought that’s what we were supposed to do. We thought we needed to have certain “things” to make us happy. Boy were we wrong. Happiness grows out of choosing to be happy, and for being grateful for what you have. It has nothing to do with owning the prescribed number of possessions.

At some point, we chose to live a simplified life. Barry and I decided not to go for all the trappings for which everyone was pining. Some of the choice to live simply was made for us, because we didn’t have a six-figure income, but another part of our decision had more to do with not wanting to hop on the merry-go-round of acquiring so many things to take care of and protect. Don’t get me wrong, we still have a lot more things than we’d like. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of accumulating stuff.

Most of the time, we don’t think the way we live affects other people, so I was surprised when my in-laws said, “We admire the simple life you two have chosen to lead.” Wow. I didn’t think anyone had noticed. That made me want to continue to put value in intangibles rather than in material things.

Our version of living simply is to cook at home most of the time, drive hybrid cars, recycle as much stuff as we can, to refrain from buying all the latest gadgets, and to pay for the minimum channels on the TV. We’re not big consumers. I think those ads where women have to check their shopping site every morning, or have shopping competitions are ludicrous. Capitalism is on it’s way out. We’ve got to come up with a new economic model.

To help create a new personal economic model, and become financially independent, we’re paying off all our credit card debt, which means we live within our means. Using things until they are worn out instead of getting the latest fad item. Soon we’ll make changes to our home to make it more energy efficient so the utility company can pay us, instead of the other way around. But the biggest lesson of all is that gratitude is a powerful tool toward living a happy and fulfilling life. No matter the amount of things I stockpile, they can’t make me feel better about myself.

I wonder where we got the idea that external things are the key to happiness?

About a week ago, a friend of mine pointed out in a response to a post that Americans consume most of the world’s resources. She’s right. We do. That’s not good. Perhaps the economic downturn of the last few years has helped us wake up to the fact that we can do with a lot fewer possessions. I mean we can’t take them with us. It’s not the possessions that make life worth living anyway. It’s what we give of ourselves, it’s the connections we make, the love we share.  It’s the lovely moments with friends and family. It’s the moments of helping others that we take with us.

Here’s a link to an article, “Living cheap is the new green,” that will help you get started if you want to live more cheaply and simply.

I’m grateful that I’ve chosen to live a simple life. Now I’ve got to go clear out some more clutter.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014
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Where Are We After 9/11?

U.S. Constitution

U.S. Constitution

“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.” ― David Levithan, Love Is the Higher Law

“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” –Henry Van Dyke

Tomorrow is the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11. There’s been a bit of traffic on the social networks about the attacks with people reminiscing about their experiences and what they learned from the events of that day. I was deeply touched by a heart wrenching article by a journalist who interviewed the husband of one of the victims on flight 93 a few days after the plane crashed. He was remembering how open the husband was with his feelings of loss and grief. He was deeply touched when the husband asked him if he wanted to listen to the wife’s last messages. Her voice was calm and full of love.

At the end of the article the author stated that he believes good always overcomes evil, and he enumerated the various times in history when good has prevailed. But now, he pointed out, we’re facing a new threat from ISIS. His focus was on all the things going on in the Middle East. In doing so, he missed a big problem right here in this country.

Understandably the events of that terrible day sent us into shock, grief and fear. For those of us who were old enough to remember, the images of that day and the emotions we felt are seared into our memory. We will never forget them as long as we live. I want to say right now that I honor all those who died, whether they were in the planes, buildings, or trying to save people. But I feel like we’ve let the fear and confusion of that day rule our choices. We’re not as tolerant as we used to be.

Okay, I know I can put a positive spin on any situation. If you’ve been reading my blog this past year and a half, you know that. But as I wrote in my last post, we’ve come to a dangerous crossroads in this country. The evil isn’t only in the Middle East, or in the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine. It’s here in our cities and towns. We’ve let fear co-opt our better judgment in many ways. At least some of us have.

In recent weeks police departments armed with military gear, have attacked peaceful demonstrators protesting against racially motivated police attacks. They’ve arrested fast-food workers, who, again, were demonstrating peacefully trying to get their companies to pay them a living wage, and we continue to have a whole section of the Republican Party treat our President and anyone who doesn’t think like they do with blatant disrespect.

I didn’t like President Bush. I thought he was a terrible President, but I didn’t blast him publicly. He was the President, and I kept my mouth shut, except in private conversations. Now days it seems like bashing the President and his policies is a game of one-up-manship. It’s just one indication that some people have closed their minds and are increasingly hateful and intolerant.

Those who criticize the President, and who advocate using extreme force against our citizens, are proving to me that we’re dangerously close to a Nazi Germany type climate operating right here in the U.S., and I think it all started on September 11, 2001. We got so caught up in protecting ourselves, that it’s had unexpected consequences. I believe many people live in the fear that we’ll experience another day just like that one, even though it was thirteen years ago and the world is a very different place now.

Go back to our Constitution and take a good look at the rights it gives us as citizens.

Amendment I states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment IV states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Admittedly I’m not an expert on the Constitution of the United States. But, it seems some people’s rights have been seriously violated of late. Those who have acted against the Constitution have acted out of fear. I know from personal experience that fear can rule your life to such an extent that you are able to twist authoritative documents to support your position no matter how paranoid or hateful your position may be. There are sectors of our society that have become so focused on self-preservation, that they are willing to do anything to protect themselves. They can’t see that they’ve gone over to the dark side and are violating the rights of others.

I agree with that journalist who remembered the interview so long ago that still affects him to this day. Good does always overcome evil. But good has to be awake and paying attention or things can get out of hand. I think we’ve come to the point where we’re in danger of evil getting a strong foothold. If it does, we’ll have a very difficult time overcoming it.

How do we overcome the extremists who are so full of fear that they can’t see straight? This is a secret they can’t understand, “…the energy of a loving thought is enormously more powerful than that of a negative one.” –David R. Hawkings, M.D., Ph.D., Power VS. Force. And as he points out on page 282 of his book, one individual who calibrates at the level of 300 counterbalances 90,000 individuals who calibrate below 200. Of course, the higher your calibration, the higher the number of people below 200 you counterbalance.

Trying reason with the extremely fearful won’t work, nor will resisting what they’re trying to do. The only thing that will work is to practice meditation, self-discipline, and love. Cleaning up our issues, releasing our fear and learning to love ourselves and others will help set our country and the world on a new path away from fear and hatred. That’s how we shrink evil. That’s how we heal the world.

Lucinda Sage-MIdgorden © 2014

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Women and Men

Evening Clouds

Evening Clouds

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m not sure this post will make sense to anyone but me. However, I’ve got to write down my thoughts and feelings to make sense of them.

Almost every day, I find new reasons to be disturbed about the way women and minorities are being treated in this country and around the world. In fact my feelings run the gamut between irritation to down right rage when I hear the latest news. I know it’s not good to hold onto those feelings. They’re jarring to my calm, so I’m resolved to understand why we’re experiencing a new surge in human rights problems. I can’t just sit by and watch it happen. I want to figure out what I can do about it. Recently, I had some aha moments that I’d like to share.

This past week my book club group was discussing The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it to both men and women. It’s about the Grimké sisters, two almost forgotten figures in the Abolitionist and Suffrage movements. As always our discussion turned to current events. One woman said, “It feels like we’re going backwards.” I had to admit it does feel like we’re going backwards. However, I know from my study and personal spiritual practice that’s not possible.

As I was contemplating our discussion, three ideas came my way that are helping me articulate what I’ve been struggling to understand for many years.

A few days before our book club discussion I saw an article or poster on Facebook stating that the outside has traditionally been men’s domain, therefore any woman who crosses paths with men in what they consider their domain is fair game for interference of some kind. The men who think this way, assume they can stop the woman, harass her, or do any number of other unpleasant things with her they like. After all, they OWN the out of doors, that gives them permission to do anything they please. I think this applies not only to the way men treat women in THEIR space, but how white men feel toward and treat minorities as well.

This mindset is centuries old, you understand, so it’s ingrained as just the way things are. There are some otherwise perfectly nice men who don’t see why women get upset at cat calls, or a hand around their waist. They don’t understand that what they’ve just said is a racial slur. Many men do understand this, but some are just doing what they’ve been taught. Often If someone pointed out their bad behavior, they’d be appalled to think that they weren’t considerate and understanding. They’d deny it, of course, but who knows what seeds can be planted in their minds when they see the affect their behavior has on someone else.

Another day I saw a post on Facebook that pointed out that men think that they are the ones who make women fully women by having sex with them. Like they were gods and could dictate who was to become a full human being! I guess to these men, sex is like laying claim to the woman, who then belongs to him exclusively. As if a woman couldn’t possibly be a person in her own right without the approval and protection of a man.

Everything on this living organism we call planet Earth has the right to self-determination without interference from another being. Sex is a biological function. It has nothing to do with personhood. Nor is it a reason to make women inferior to men, or to fight over her with another man.

Ever since I was a little girl, I just couldn’t swallow the interpretation of the creation story in the Bible. The story that is used to put women in the inferior position, because supposedly Eve was the one to break God’s law and eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. In my mind her curiosity was and is a vital part of being human. Also in the story is the implication that men are superior because Adam was created first with God creating Eve from his rib. It’s obvious to me that a man included that in the story in an effort to blot out the fact that the pre-historic cultures worshipped the Goddess. Societies during that time were organized around a mostly feminine in approach to living and surviving. When the tide began to turn toward male dominated societies, men wanted to prove they were more favored by God, by telling the creation story skewed toward male dominance. (Riane Eisler’s book The Chalice and the Blade is an eye opening account that gives archeological evidence of the change from female to male dominated societies.)

The third idea, though not new, came my way in an interview that Mastin Kipp had with Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit, and Sacred Contracts. In the interview she said that we are addicted to Darkness. We long to live in the light, but darkness is so familiar to us, that we cling to it afraid to give it up. Because we choose to live in the dark, we often do things to benefit ourselves, for which others pay the price. When we’re in the dark, we’re motivated by greed, or self-preservation, or fear. I knew exactly what she was talking about, because I suffered from the unethical actions of someone else. The person who maneuvered me out of a beloved job, wanted it for herself. I was in the way of what she wanted. So, thinking only of herself, she made sure I lost my job. We hear it all the time. “I didn’t mean anything personal by it. It was just business.” That kind of thing happens among family and friends as well. And I’ve been just as guilty of doing it as those who’ve done it to me. No wonder there are so many walking wounded.

I know from personal experience that deciding to live in the light is a scary thing. When I made the decision to come out of the dark, I didn’t know what to expect, or what it would feel like to live within the light. When I fully embraced the light, I had to take responsibility for my actions. I couldn’t make excuses for hurting others any longer. I couldn’t claim, “The devil made me do it”. There were times when I wanted to go back into the dark. But once you’ve taken a step forward, it’s nearly impossible to go back.

Even though most of us have been living in the dark for centuries, we’re now coming out into the light. There have been great teachers and enlightened beings who have shown us the way, but because what they’re trying to get us to see is beyond our five senses, it’s been difficult for us to grasp the true meaning of their teachings.

For those of you who are rational, let me reference a book I read several years ago that shows scientifically how humans have been awakening. The book is Power VS. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. Reading it changed my life and my perspective of events that have taken place in the world. I’m not a scientist, but let me explain the book by saying that each person, society, religion, and anything that exists vibrates at certain levels. Hawkins has learned how to measure these vibrations, which he calls calibrations. Most of humanity calibrates at a fairly low level. People like Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, and other enlightened people calibrate at levels as high at 1,000. In the last chapter of the book Hawkins writes that in the mid-1980s, the calibration for humanity took a sudden jump from 190 to 207. It may be even higher now. A person or organization that calibrates below 200 can’t tell the difference between a truth and a lie. They are living in deep darkness. They are so frightened of those of us who calibrate above 200 that they do terrible things thinking their actions will protect them in some way. The people who have committed unthinkable acts in the past, and who are in the news of late, calibrate at very low levels.

So how do we combat the mistreatment of women and minorities? We can point out in loving ways the error in the thinking of the one doing the mistreatment. Here are some examples of what I mean.

Once I needed some repair work on my car. The technician came out and greeted me with, “Hello Sweetie. What can I do for you?” I have to admit I was a little miffed. But I said as calmly as I possibly could, “First of all. Don’t call me Sweetie. I’m someone’s sweetie, but not yours.” He looked startled, but said, “Okay. What can I do for you?” Then I proceeded to tell him what I needed in as businesslike manner as possible. I hope he thought twice before calling the next woman, “Sweetie”.

Another thing we can do is to stand with someone who is being harassed. It doesn’t take much to stop a bully. You can merely say, “Stop harassing this person”, or you can just look at them with a neutral face. It’s a technique I used in the classroom to get students to do what they were supposed to be doing, and it worked beautifully, because I wasn’t fighting with them. I was just helping them choose to do what they already knew they should be doing.

Also, when you stand by the person that’s being harassed, others may find the courage to join you, because one courageous person can help others make up their minds to do the same thing. Standing up to a bully is showing real power in the face of external force that is based on fear. As Hawkins writes, “Ignorance does not yield to attack, but it dissipates in the light and nothing dissolves dishonesty faster than the simple act of revealing the truth. The only way to enhance one’s power in the world is by increasing one’s integrity, understanding, and capacity for compassion.” When we stand up for the rights of others, we’re shining a light on erroneous attitudes and actions.

I have a small circle of influence in my every day life. However, when I’m teaching I try to create a safe environment in which students can flourish. If one student tries to treat another badly, I point out the behavior and try to establish a safe learning environment again. Every little effort toward the light helps create a wider field of awakening for every living thing on this planet.

Thanks for reading. I know my musings are sometimes convoluted and hard to understand. However, writing this blog helps me make sense of the world around me, and what I can do to make it a better place in which to live.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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It’s All In Our Heads

First Toe Shoes

First Toe Shoes

“Studies have shown that 90% of error in thinking is due to error in perception. If you can change your perception, you can change your emotion and this can lead to new ideas. –Edward de Bono

“If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. –William Blake

“There is no truth. There is only perception.” –Gustave Flaubert

Do you do what I do? Do you get ideas in your head about your circumstances and think they’re written in stone, that they can’t change? I do that all the time.

Recently a wisp of an idea flittered through my head during my meditation. It was fleeting like smoke, but tendrils of it remained. The next day more tendrils stuck and after a few days of this, I understood the full blown idea. I’d been holding on to thoughts about my life circumstances that weren’t true.

Wow. What an idea. In my mind I’d accepted certain “truths” about my life, my talents, and my chances for success. I’d done it so much that the realization was a little bit like a splash of cold water in the face.

My husband and I have been discussing a move to another state for quite some time. In my mind certain steps had to take place before we could even consider making such a move. But on that particular morning when all the tendrils coalesced, I knew that the “truth” was that I was the thing blocking the fulfillment of that dream. We could have been living in our new home long ago, if I hadn’t put a kibosh on it by thinking that there were obstacles in the way.

Let me put it another way. If I’d kept the picture of what I wanted in my mind, and not thought of anything else, the Universe would have conspired for me and we’d be living in our new home by now.

I’m reminded of a story about Walt Disney. He saw Disneyland completed in his head long before the first shovel hit the ground. As he was struggling to make his dream come true, someone said to him something like, “Since it’s so hard, why don’t you give up. Maybe it’s not meant to be”, to which he said. “It already exists in my mind.” He also said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” As we all know, not only Disneyland, but Disney World both exist and millions of people have fun with their families every year.

So, I’ve decided that I’ve got to change my mind about limitations, and believe that I can do what someone else might call impossible.

This applies not only to the move my husband and I want to make, but to other things as well. Like finding an audience for my books. Other artists have done it. They wanted to be writers, painters, dancers and just kept dreaming that they would be able to do what they loved and make a success of it. They dreamed they’d find people who believed in them. Little by little it happened. In the end, they got to live the life they wanted. Those are the people we look up to, and want to emulate.

One of my greatest inspirations in this regard, is my youngest niece. Since the age of three, she’s wanted to be a ballet dancer. That’s not an easy profession. It takes years of hard work and training with no guarantee that you’ll be able to get hired. She not only wants to be a ballet dancer, she wants to do it in Paris!

Her parents are very supportive and never tell her to make a back-up plan. In fact they moved the family to a city where she can get the best training, and possibilities for auditions. Every once in a while when she complains about missing something else that might be fun, my sister will say to her, “Are you sure this is what you want to do? Because if you don’t, you can stop and do something else.” So far after nine years, she still loves dancing more than anything else. To help her improve the vision of her dreams, she has posters of Paris on her walls, she’s taking French in school; she’s going all out to think only of seeing the life she wants to live.

Now that I’m breaking down some of those old walls in my thinking that have kept me from my dreams, I’m visualizing the life I want to live. And one of the things I’m visualizing is going to Paris to watch my niece dance and while I’m there having book signings and speaking engagements about my writing process.

What dreams are you blocking?

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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